Previous warnings apply
edited by Jesse and Scott
Wednesday morning, Alex and Josh packed, had breakfast and Gertrude took them to the airport for an uneventful flight to San Francisco. When they landed, Luc was waiting with a car to drive them to Josh’s apartment. On the way, Luc said, “Cândido and I would like to treat you and Alex to a night on the town if you’re up to it Saturday night. We have tentative reservations for dinner and we have found this wonderful club called Waiting for the Sunrise. It’s owned by a Brazilian couple and they play a combination of fifties, sixties and seventies American music -- which, for some reason, the owners love -- and traditional Brazilian music."
“Sounds fun,” Alex said.
“It is,” Luc said. “Oh, and you have to dress up. Choose one of the decades or something Brazilian. Cândido usually stops everything when he walks in. It’s feathers and piercings, the full Bororo outfit, or,” he laughed, “non-outfit as, let's face it, it doesn't cover a lot!”
“I think we can manage,” Josh said. “I’m going to love my babe in tight jeans, tee shirt and maybe a DA.”
“DA?” Luc asked.
“Duck’s Ass,” Alex laughed. It was a hair style in the fifties.”
“Dinner reservations are for eight-thirty. How about coming to our place around seven for a drink before we go?”
“Sounds good. We’re going to Oakland to have dinner with Bull and Mr. VanWinkle Friday. Pretty heavy social calendar for two country boys.”
“Country boys my ass,” Luc laughed. “More like joint kings of a small mountain kingdom.”
“I like that. King Josh and King Alex, Kings of the Mountain. It has a nice ring to it.”
“Maybe you should start referring to the House as the Hall of the Mountain Kings,” Luc laughed and started imitating the bassoon part from the opening of the Grieg piece. “But how are you ever going to marry off the prince and princess who are, if you will pardon me, real horsey looking.”
“That will be a problem. There’ll probably be a move by the Right to pass a law forbidding their being married.”
“Well, I understand one argument against couples like us being married is it will lead to incest and bestiality and all sorts of nasty deviate behavior,” Alex laughed. “I bet that Prince and Princess will end up engaged in bestiality.”
“No doubt,” Luc said. “Look at me. I’m married to a man who wears feathers. You never can tell what allowing us gay boys to marry will bring on. It’s a slippery slope.” They then came up with the usual nonsensical arguments advanced against gay marriage and added their own. They were all soon laughing so hard they had tears in their eyes.
Josh suggested they have an early lunch before Luc dropped them off at the apartment and they went to small sandwich shop Josh had frequented after he moved into his present apartment. He had recommended it to Luc and Cândido when they moved in.
As soon as they were in the apartment, Josh called Gertrude to let her know they had arrived safely. Before he hung up, he said, “Gertrude. I have a favor to ask. In my closet are a garment bag and a hat box. Will you please box them and overnight them to me?” Gertrude said of course she would. “Mavis says the Royal Couple are obviously missing daddy and daddy, They keep coming to the front of the pasture and whinnying.”
“Hug all three for us,” Josh said, “Mavis, Prince and Princess."
When Josh finished talking to Gertrude, he said, “Gertrude said the Royal Couple are missing us, which reminds me I need to make arrangements for their trip to the Mountain. When he found the cost to transport two horses compared to what it cost to transport twelve, he did a double take. The difference between the two was relatively little. Thinking about the future, he thought he would probably need a trailer and truck to transport horses and they probably wouldn't cost more than twice what transporting the horses would cost. He called Winston and asked him about recommending someone who could get a truck and trailer ready in a hurry. Another thing about Winston was his incredible memory, he gave Josh the names and phone numbers of three dealers in Colorado in the order he thought Josh should call them. The first call was to a dealer in Pueblo, and when Josh described what he needed, the man -- Liam Larson -- asked Josh what color he had in mind. “Remember, your choice of colors in trucks will be pretty limited.”
“A blue,” Josh said.
“I’ll get back to you in half an hour to see what I can do.”
While he was waiting for the call, Alex reminded Josh that he had Winston to handle such matters and he was trying to take over and he was in no way qualified. “Shit!” You are so right, Barefoot Boy.”
Liam called back and told Josh what his options were in terms of the truck. “I’ve found several within a reasonable distance,” he said.
“Look, we can keep going back and forth, but I’ll have my purchasing agent contact you within the hour. I’ll also work out the artwork for the truck and trailer as soon as possible.”
“Fine. I’ll be waiting.”
Josh hung up, called Winston and, when he answered, said, “Winston, Josh. Look, I don’t know why I even thought about purchasing a truck and trailer when you are as available as I am. I have contacted Liam Larson in Colorado and told him to get a blue truck and paint the trailer to match. He gave me several choices of trucks within a reasonable distance. Call him, and negotiate a deal. Even if you have to pay more than you might otherwise, I need it by Wednesday so Alex and I can head home with Prince and Princess.
While Josh was on the phone, Alex wandered through the apartment. When Josh had finished with his calls, Alex said, “Josh, anyone who knows you would know this is your place.”
“How would they know?”
“You mean aside from the fact that your scent, that warm, comfortable, loving scent which tells me my beloved has been here? Had I walked in with my eyes closed, I would have recognized it as yours.”
“Oh, you mean like when I bury my face in your pillow to drink in Alex?”
"Of course, but there’s not only that, it’s just that this place says, 'Josh.'”
“What about the House?”
“It has said, ‘Elijah,’ but now it’s beginning to say ‘Josh and Alex.’ Soon it will announce that it is our place.”
Josh had decided to have a metallic blue truck and trailer with silver lettering. The truck would have a picture of Sentinel Rock and arching over it would be “Sentinel Mountain” and below "Wren, North Carolina." The trailer would have the picture of Sentinel Mountain with a rampant black Mustang on one side and a rampant white Mangalarga Marchador on the other.
Josh called Elizabeth to ask if she knew a graphic artist who could do the logos.
“I’m sure our Art Department can handle that. It’s small, but the work I have seen has been excellent. I’ll connect you.”
“Linda Graham, Blankenship LLLP Art Department.” Josh told her what he needed and asked if she knew anyone who would like to take it on as a freelance project. He explained it would be freelance as it was a personal project and not Blankenship’s, and what he had in mind.
“Sounds like something I could do,” she said. “How soon do you need it.”
Josh laughed and said, “Yesterday, however, tomorrow would do.”
“I have some vacation time,” the woman said, “I’ll take off tomorrow and do it. As soon as it’s approved, I can send it to the dealer, who can get it to an airbrush artist. I assume you have some pictures of the horses, or are they just horses.”
Josh tried to sound indignant, and said, “Of course they’re not just horses! And, yes, I have dozens of photos but, of course, none of the horses are rampant.”
“Is it possible for you to come by after work and bring me the disk and we will select the photos you want?”
“I’ll do better than that. I’ll have then to you within the hour, that way I’ll avoid rush hour.”
“See you then. Oh, by the way, as I said, my name is Linda Graham.”
“And mine is Josh Taylor.”
“Oh, I recognized your voice, Mr. Taylor. I hope you don’t think I would speak to a stranger and agree to do a project for him.”
“It’s Josh. Remember this is a freelance project and I expect to pay what the project would cost me if I got someone else to do it.”
“May be a freelance project and I expect to get paid what you would pay an outsider, but I assure you it will be up to Blankenship standards.”
“Reason enough to have called you. I’ll bring the photos over shortly.”
“See you then.”
“Barefoot Boy, we have Sentinel Mountain business. We need to pick out some pictures for Linda Graham in Blankenship's Art Department to design logos for a truck and horse trailer. We need several pictures of horses, both Mustang and Mangalarga Marchador, as well as Sentinel Rock. They soon realized there were no decent pictures of horses rampant and just selected several of Prince and Princess -- only Josh and Alex could really have told the difference in the two, so they were interchangeable -- three of the white Mangalarga Marchador with the black tail and mane, and several of Sentinel Rock, including one of Josh sitting on the boulder at the very edge of the rock ledge, only because Alex insisted on it. Josh called a cab and they went downstairs, climbed in and headed for the Blankenship building.
They reached the Blankenship Building by two and Josh used the directory to locate the Art Department. “I’ve been here a few years and am now CEO of the company and I didn’t know we had an Art Department. That says something about me that I don’t like.”
“I suspect, my dear Josh, there’s much you don’t know about Blankenship, LLLP. It’s not a little three-man operation, you know, and how large is the Art Department anyway?”
“Alex, I don’t know. I have no idea what a Blankenship Art Department would do.” As they entered the elevator, he added, “I suspect we’ll find out soon.”
They found the room with ‘Art Department’ on the door and walked in, Josh expecting to find a receptionist behind a desk, instead they walked into a very bright room filled with art supplies and a young woman sitting on a high stool, bent over a lightbox. “I’m looking for Linda Graham of the Art Department,” Josh said.
The young woman stood, smiled, and said, “You’ve found both.”
“You’re the Art Department?” Josh asked.
“I’m it, Josh,” she said.
“Linda, this is Alex Bledsoe, my husband.”
“Good to meet you, Alex.”
“I brought you some photographs on a disk,” Josh said, handing her a disk.
She put the disk in a computer and took a quick look at the photos. “Should I stick strictly to what you suggested or could I try other things if I get inspired?”
“By all means try other things, if you like. After all, you’re the Art Department,” Josh laughed, “so long as it has Sentinel Mountain, Wren, North Carolina and Mustang and Mangalarga Marchador on it. Oh, and be sure there are images of both Mustang and Mangalarga Marchador and not just one or the other.
“The Mustangs are the black horses and the Mangalarga Marchador the white with black tail and mane,” Alex added in response to the confused look on Linda’s face.
“Thanks, Alex. Since I have no work to do for Blankenship right now, I can start to work right away, if you promise not to tell the Old Man.”
“I promise,” Josh said.
Josh took Alex’s hand and led him to the elevator and pushed the button for the top floor. When they arrived, still holding hands, they walked into an office where two women were working. “Elizabeth, Prue, this is my world-famous and absolute hottie husband Alexander David Bledsoe. Alex, the equally famous, hard-working and stunningly beautiful Elizabeth and Prue.
The two women both hugged Alex, then Josh. “We have had hottie Josh around for years and have heard much about Alex, so it’s good to see you and learn you’re not a figment of the Old Man’s warped imagination. Welcome to San Francisco and Blankenship LLLP,” Prue said.
“He's free,” Prue said, “Josh, just walk in. We won’t bother telling Himself you are here.”
Josh did that. “Alex! Josh! I didn’t know you two were in the building. Have a seat. Something to drink?” Luc asked.
“I’ll have a water,” Alex said.
“Make that two,” Josh added.
“So, what brings you to Blankenship LLLP?”
“I hired Blankenship’s Art Department to do the artwork for a horse trailer and the truck which will pull it,” Josh said.
“We have an Art Department?”
“We do. One woman. This is a freelance job and I'll pay her. She said she had nothing to do for Blankenship LLLP right now and would start right away.”
“I suppose we have work for her or she wouldn't be here, but maybe I need to check on that. Maybe we could do without her.”
“Or let her do freelance and split the fee, as you do the engineers,” Alex suggested. “You want to keep good talent and besides you don't want to shut out the humanities.”
“Josh, you didn't tell me he was smart too,” Luc said.
Josh leaned over and kissed Alex on the cheek and said, “He's got a lot of talent I don't broadcast,” and Alex blushed. “Anyway, just wanted to let you know we were here. I'll empty out the few things I have in the Old Man's office before I leave town and you can move in.”
“Not sure I like that,” Luc said. “That will say you are no longer at the helm.”
“I won't be and I'm not worried at all,” Josh said. “You, Mr. T'an and Senhor Dimas are as fully capable of running this company as Mr. T'an, Senhor Dimas and I.”
“I'm sure. Well, we'll run. Need to take this boy shopping as he's getting his body back....”
“I couldn't help but notice that,” Luc grinned.
“Look, but don't touch,” Josh slapped Luc's hand.
“Alex, there's a small men's store down the street which has the best selection of underwear and jeans in the city. It's the only place I have found to get jeans which fit that nice ass of Cândido's. I'm sure they have some to show off the butt of Josh's dreams,” Luc laughed. He wrote the address and handed it to Josh. “I didn't ask before, but would you like a company car while you're here?”
“Not a bad idea if one is available.”
Luc picked up the phone and asked Prue to check that out. “Check with Prue when you leave.”
“We're leaving. Just wanted to say hi.” The three exchanged hugs.
When they stepped into the outer office, Prue said, “Josh, Mr. Sun's company car is here. I think you'll like it. He won't be back for a week. He's in Wren, North Carolina at some place called Sentinel Mountain and says the accommodations are excellent, the food exceptional, the wine cellar superb and he suspects he's putting on more than a few pounds.”
“I bet he is,” Alex said. “Tell him he better spend some time on that buckskin Mustang stallion. He'll keep his weight down -- down on the ground.”
“What's he doing on the Mountain?” Josh asked.
“A second delegation from Peru arrived today to take a look at the communication system and as soon as they are gone a Chilean one arrives. A fourth one from Montana will be there as soon as they are gone. Mr. Sun says that's it. After these, anyone interested can check an installation elsewhere. 'Let the manufacturer do his own selling from now on,' he said.”
“Good man,” Josh said. “He doesn't drive a SUV, does he?”
“Hardly. Here's the key and it's in
slot nineteen.” Slot nineteen was occupied by a nice, sedate,
fire-engine-red Miata MX-5.
Truck Deals and Logos
They drove to the shop Luc suggested and were surprised when it was so small and quite unremarkable outside. Inside, the jeans and underwear selections were amazing. While a young fellow was helping Alex select jeans -- and enjoying every minute of it if the tent in the front of his jeans was any indication -- Josh was busy selecting sexy underwear for the two of them when Winston called. He and the dealer had reached agreement on a GMC. “Kinda surprised a GMC turned out to be the best deal and the best truck for the job,” he said, “but it did.”
“The color?” Josh asked.
“Well, that's one reason we got the deal we did. A guy had ordered the truck with just primer so he could have a custom paint job. There are four or more coats of electric blue metallic on the truck. The dealer says it looks as if you could plunge your hand in it. Anyway, the guy who ordered the truck pre-paid for the paint job and earnest money -- five thousand -- then backed out of the deal. The dealer says if you met the wife you'd understand why as she pitched a hissy fit in the showroom. Anyway, seems no-one wants a truck that fancy so he's had it almost a year and was happy to unload it. We got a deal. I called the trailer guy and gave him the paint information and to check on prices again. He said he got a nearly new four-horse trailer after I talked with him. 'It's in good shape other than the fact that it needs to be cleaned up, new tires and a paint job. Looks like someone deliberately scratched it up. Will make you a real deal on it.'
“I asked about the bodywork and told him the paint and that we'd need at least four coats. He named a price that was about three fourths again as much as the new two horse one, but after we talked, I told him I'd have to think about it. Half an hour later, he called and said we could have it for a half again as much as the two horse one if we'd handle getting new tires for it. The ones on it were not worn, but dry rotten. I told him if he had it ready by Tuesday at five with no less that three coats of paint and a clear coat -- and reminded him there were logos involved -- we'd take it. He did stipulate that the design for the logos had to reach him before five tomorrow. By the way, if it can be added to the truck it has been including satellite radio.”
“Winston, you are the man.”
“Yeah, well, you just have to know what the deal is to get a deal,” he laughed.
“How's Susan and the boys?”
“All growing,” Winston laughed again.
“Hug them all for Alex and me.”
Josh called Linda and gave her detailed paint information and she said she would have the logo ready for first approval by noon the next day. “I can get him the final in a couple hours after that unless there are major changes.”
“Good,” Josh said.
Alex and Josh finished shopping and went back to the apartment. As soon as they arrived, Alex tossed some of his new clothes in the washer. “I guess I'll never learn to like to wear washable things before they are washed to get all the extra finishing stuff out of them.” That done, the two sat on the couch and started making out. A few minutes later, clothes came off and making out advanced to serious love-making. Wrapped in each other's arms and legs, the two were soon asleep without having cleaned up after each had experienced a very satisfied climax -- twice.
They were awakened at six by the phone. Josh managed to untangle himself and pick it up. “Josh here.”
“Josh, Cândido. Would you and Alex be interested in dinner? Luc and I are going to a small cafe we enjoy. Not fine dining, but good food. We'll just have a quiet dinner and hit the bed early. We might even get some sleep.”
“Let me check with Alex. Barefoot Boy, it's Cândido. He wants to know if you and I would like to join Luc and him for a quiet, early supper. Says they plan to have an early dinner, hit the bed early and might even get to sleep."
Alex took the phone from Josh and said, “Cândido, Alex. Seems you have got your man on the right track these days... Good man. I'm still trying to get mine under control..." Alex turned to Josh and said, “Cândido says the secret is to wear you out in bed... Cândido I'm trying, but right now he is in better shape than I am... We'd be delighted...See you then.” Alex hung up the phone and said, “He said to meet them at their place in half an hour and that the place is very casual, jeans are fine.”
“Ok, throw a pair of those new jeans in the drier. They have time to dry and I want to see your hot ass in them.”
“How about your hot ass?”
“I'll try not to disappoint.”
When the two were dressed and ready to leave, no-one would have been disappointed in them except anyone expecting to get it on with one of the hot studs, because it was obvious as they walked out the door they were taken.
They walked next door and when they knocked, Cândido invited them in. He was not disappointing either in well-fitting jeans and polo shirt. “Come in,” he said as he hugged each of them. “It is really good to see you both and you looking so well, Alex. How has it been?”
“Bad question unless you want to be here all night,” Alex responded. “I was in Carolina until about a week ago.”
“No-one could have told you the beauty of that place, could they? There is also much positive power and good spirit there. I am sure it was very healing for you. One day I will return, soon I hope.”
“Because I did so well there, last week in Boulder was not fun, but I am almost back to nor...well.” Alex leaned over toward Cândido and said in a loud whisper, “Lover boy here gets upset when I say I'm almost normal.”
“I agree,” Luc said. “Who wants to be normal, whatever that is. Come on in and have a seat. What do you want to drink?”
“A nice red?” Josh asked.
“Indeed. For you Alex?”
“I guess a half glass of red as well. I am still on a small dose of a med which increases the effects of alcohol.”
“You guys can sample some exquisite wine the next time you are in NC. We have a wine cellar with over three thousand bottles.” He then told them about Elijah's wine collection.
They chatted about Sentinel Mountain and about the anticipated reopening of Boys' Camp. “I think that generic kind of name will be changed. Several people asked about that and when I broached the subject, it was something the Mountain people had thought about. I mean, for all of its life it has been Boys' Camp."
“Something to honor Elijah, I hope. I remember the lesson from the Hebrew scriptures a few Sundays ago was about Elijah and a fiery chariot. How about calling it Elijah's Chariot?” Cândido asked. "The lesson tells the story of Elijah who, before he was taken into heaven by a fiery chariot, was asked by Elisha for double his spirit and it was granted to him. Elijah was taken to a better place and Elisha had double his spiritual power. Maybe the institution should be called Elijah’s Chariot,” Cândido said.
“I kinda like that, Dido” (the first time Luc had used his pet name for Cândido in front of Josh and Alex), Luc said, "but I was thinking more in terms of the whole place and thought about Elijah’s House.”
“Strange, Alex came up with much the same idea by a different route suggesting Elijah's Camp and the boys called Elijah's Sons or Sons of Elijah,” Josh said.
“I do like the idea,” Josh said, “and I think House of Elijah and Sons of Elijah. I talked to Rob and asked them to discuss names among the folks on the Mountain and have them think about it. I'll give him a call and toss in Elijah's Chariot. As I told Alex, they will have the final say. So, Cândido, how is your life these days? Seems like you are left out with Luc and I involved with Blankenship and Alex and I with Sentinel Mountain.”
“I’m not the problem,” Luc said. “Thanks to the CEO of Blankenship who did some marriage counseling, things are good, but maybe he needs to have a talk with my husband.”
Cândido kissed him, chuckled and said, “Actually, I must confess, I am the one that has been busy running all over the place doing lecture series. I stopped teaching last semester because of the hassle from bureaucratic bullshit and lazy students. I am used to freshmen taking a semester to get serious. Even after that, thinking more about partying than academics was pretty much to be expected, but my graduate students acted more like undergraduates than serious candidates for advanced degrees.
“After my second guest lecture series, I took another look at teaching and it couldn’t compare with a lecture series which has in attendance, for the most part, people who are interested and knowledgeable. I especially enjoy elders who, now that they have time, really dig into a subject.” He laughed, “I have encountered a few wise women I would love to have a go at Claude Levi-Strauss! I met one in south Georgia who spoke Bororo with the most delightful southern accent, but still I am away a week at the time and, I guess Luc and I are still on our honeymoon.”
I was afraid Alex was stepping in quicksand when he asked Cândido about Levi-Strauss, but Cândido simply said he couldn't understand how someone could spend a short time with his mother's people without understanding the language and write intelligently about them. ” And in truth, to give the guy credit, he had a way of dealing with people and their lives which didn't require a lot of knowledge of them. Maybe we'll have an opportunity to talk about, not Levi-Strauss, but my mother's -- and my people -- soon. I have been contacted about an extended lecture series at Mountain State University in Crockett and if we can work out dates and money, I'll do it. I'd do a lecture -- question and answer session, three evenings a week for two weeks. Recalling how much we enjoyed our time on the Mountain, I have asked that they be concurrent and preferably Monday through Wednesday or Wednesday through Friday. That way I might be able to convince the Kings of the Mountain -- Luc told me of your new title -- that a live-in anthropologist for a weekend or two might have an advantage to the kingdom, if for nothing more than to reduce the inventory of an overfilled wine cellar. Then if I could get my husband to fly in for at least one of those long weekends, life would be a dream.” Cândido said, singing the last phrase.
“I'm not sure the kings would have anything to say about that! I am sure the empress of the castle will not allow the kings a minute's peace if they didn't provide royal accommodations for 'that wonderful black Indian and his sweet husband, though I still don't understand how they can both be husbands.'”
“Which reminds me, oh light of my life, I noticed you have been introducing me as your husband, not that I mind at all.”
“Well, maybe not legally, but to my mind you are my husband and it sure clears up a lot of trying to describe our relationship. It cuts right to the heart of the matter.”
Alex nodded, kissed Josh and said, “It does, husband of mine."
“Well, if we have all the relationships in good repair, it's a pleasant night so if you two will grab a light jacket, we'll walk to the restaurant. It's only a few blocks unless it will be too much for you after your flight and all.”
“We're fine,” Alex said.
“Yeah,” Josh added. “We went to bed and we did sleep."
“Well,” Alex said very slowly, “that's not exactly how it was, but even though we never made it to the bed, we did sleep.”
The restaurant was small, but beautifully decorated, the service without reproach and the food very good. Luc and Cândido both had prime rib, while Josh and Alex chose seafood since they had lots of beef in North Carolina, but getting decent seafood there was not easy.
After a leisurely dinner, they strolled through the area which Josh had not done after moving to this part of the city. As they approached their building, a car went speeding up the street and Cândido said, “I guess it's just a primitive jungle dweller's instincts but, intentional or not, that car has been following us ever since we left the apartment.”
When they reached their floor, Alex said, “Would you two like an after-dinner drink and coffee? I'm sure Josh has something.”
“Sure, but only for that. I promised Luc I would get him to bed early.”
It was shortly after nine when they left and Alex and Josh got ready for bed. “I have meant to ask you, Josh, where did all the beautiful Asian artifacts come from? Did you manage to hang on to them after you were fired or buy them after you went back to Blankenship? Are those swords above the bed real?”
“Whoa! One question at a time! I bought them after I went back to Blankenship. They are from Kelly's office. I had admired them from the day I went into his office for my interview. When I took over, I took the Old Man's office and left it pretty much as it was because I spent little time in it when I was getting the company back on its feet. Luc took over Kelly's office and Cândido selected the art for it -- all Brazilian -- and the Asian things were up for grabs so I got them for next to nothing. And, yes, I don't know how Kelly got them, but those are authentic samurai swords. I am sure it would take little effort to slice a man in half with one of those, but I want my man in one piece,” Josh said and kissed Alex deeply, the beginning of another round of wonderful love-making.
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